Illustration: A. Canamucio
There once was a feeling in society--an "awe" if you will--that science was nearly perfect and would make everything okay: If there is a problem, don't worry, science can come up with the answer. Cancer--no big deal. Cheap energy--why not. Fixing genetic abnormalities--a piece of cake. However, over the past few decades, science has lost a great deal of public support. With Three Mile Island and Love Canal, thalidomide and DES, mad cow disease, the Challenger explosion, and now the tragic death of Jesse Gelsinger in a gene therapy trial, we are seeing a turn from optimism to outright pessimism by the public toward science and scientists. Where once there was awe, now there is mistrust.

A large part of that mistrust stems from the fact that scientists, as well as policymakers, don't take the concerns of the general public seriously. Also problematic is that the scientific...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to digital editions of The Scientist, as well as TS Digest, feature stories, more than 35 years of archives, and much more!
Already a member?